Skip to Main Content
This paper presents a novel microfluidic device that exploits magnetic manipulation for integrated capture and isolation of microparticles in continuous flow. The device, which was fabricated from poly(dimethylsiloxane) (PDMS) by soft-lithography techniques, consists of an incubator and a separator integrated on a single chip. The incubator is based on a novel scheme termed target acquisition by repetitive traversal (TART), in which surface-functionalized magnetic beads repetitively traverse a sample to seek out and capture target particles. This is accomplished by a judicious combination of a serpentine microchannel geometry and a time-invariant magnetic field. Subsequently, in the separator, the captured target particles are isolated from nontarget particles via magnetically driven fractionation in the same magnetic field. Due to the TART incubation scheme that uses a corner-free serpentine channel, the device has no dead volume and allows minimization of undesired particle or magnetic-bead retention. Single-chip integration of the TART incubator with the magnetic-fractionation separator further allows automated continuous isolation and retrieval of specific microparticles in an integrated manner that is free of manual off-chip sample incubation, as often required by alternative approaches. Experiments are conducted to characterize the individual incubation and separation components, as well as the integrated device. The device is found to allow 90% of target particles in a sample to be captured and isolated and 99% of nontarget particles to be eliminated. With this high separation efficiency, along with excellent reliability and flexibility, the device is well suited to sorting, purification, enrichment, and detection of micro/nanoparticles and cells in lab-on-a-chip systems.